It seems to be a rite of passage…you know, the new social interactions of a kid who is now is school, whether it be pre-school or grade school. Suddenly they have all these new friends. Then the oldest kid in the class has a birthday, and invitations are circulating around the class. It is so exciting for the children who get one, and devastating for the ones who don’t…unless it happens to be an all boy party and you have a girl, or vice versa. As a parent, you almost feel as bad as the child that wasn’t chosen, until you are planning the party for your child, and you realize that there is no way you can invite all those kids…you would go broke…or insane. You invite as many of their friends who are close and that you can afford or stand to have, and sadly, the rest will just have to deal with it. Of course, we all hope that it isn’t the same kid left out time after time, but it can be. Since my girls had their birthdays in the summer, we had an easier time of it, in that the invitations were not handed out at school.
Those first little social interactions can be so cute. You watch as your little one spreads their wings and heads out to meet new people that you have no part in until they become your child’s friend. It can be a strange feeling, when they come home and start talking about little Susie or little Jimmy, and your first thought is, “How do you know this person?” And then you remember that of course, it is school. It is a very different time in the life of both parent and child, but it quickly transitions into an understanding that it is normal not to know every friend your child comes in contact with. Many friends will remain friends only at school, and some will become friends that are more like family, in that they spend a lot of time at your house, or your child spends a lot of time at theirs.
I found that it was always easier to have those early parties at McDonalds or Burger King, because then they could clean up the mess, and they even provided the entertainment. The kids always had a wonderful time, and I was much more at ease, and since I had gotten to know some of the mothers, I wasn’t sitting there all alone. So often, parents take their kid to a party, and think, “Ok, now I have a little free time to do what I want to.” And that is ok for the most part, if their child is well behaved, but it is the pits when they aren’t. I was very lucky in that most of the friends my girls had were very well behaved, and most of their moms stayed for the party. It was kind of nice for me that way too. Not everyone has good experiences with their child’s first social interactions, but good or bad, everyone goes through those little changes in their child’s life. And no matter what, it is something you don’t forget.